Thursday, October 07, 2004

More Tiny Cars

Hot Wheels

It's cute, tiny, and plastic. The kids love it (especially in Europe). It also gets 70 miles per gallon, and you can fit three side by side in a standard parking spot. Move over, Mini: The Smart microcar could be the next big thing on America's roads.


Over the past decade, the Mercedes spinoff called Smart has emerged as Europe's most daring car company. It has rolled out a four-wheeled motorcycle. It has introduced a novel interlocking design that allows owners to change the car's color panels as often as they change cell phone faceplates. It has opened the world's first online dealership and sells cars out of towering glass vending machines across Europe. And it has experimented with Bluetooth, offering smartphone and iPod integration before any other carmaker.

All that - plus a sticker price starting at $13,000 - has helped the company snag the youngest average buyer of any global auto manufacturer, a snappy 37. And Smart's buyers are an enviably affluent bunch. Nearly half pay in full and in cash.


What happens if some Detroit-engineered behemoth plows into the featherweight Fortwo? I got a pretty good idea, watching a Smart-sponsored crash test with a Mercedes E-Class: The big sedan crumpled, and the Fortwo ricocheted. In a separate test, by the European New Car Assessment Program, a 40-mph impact with a concrete wall failed to dent the safety cell. They awarded the Smart a three-star crash rating - nothing like a Volvo but better than a Ford Escort, which weighs nearly half a ton more than the Fortwo.

I wish they had this in a hybr...oh, never mind. It looks pretty cool and, of course, pretty expensive considering the size. Nonetheless, I would like two.


ElTigris said...

Im America that would just get shot at by large SUV drivers ...or run over. The headline for the lady in Maryland in the year Y2K was "she got out of her car and standing next to my window and I felt I was in danger so I shot her." The Ford SUV driver behind a tinted glass window emptied 3 rounds from a .38 into the face and chest of another soccer mom during a road rage incident, the incident started with the SUV lady as they say over there "driving aggressiveley". How will these little cars do? and combined with teen drivers? SUVs already bull their way thru traffic as it is *chuckles*

The Moody Minstrel said...

Those have already become a hit here in Japan, so much so that a couple of Japanese carmakers have already put out their own knock-offs. Actually, in a country where most towns have two roads and miles and miles of driveways, Smart cars make perfect sense.